Friday, September 21, 2012

Week of September 23, 2012: A Day to Remember, a Day to Forget

In life writing and all writing, we often are thinking about where we're going, the climax, the big stuff.  But you can't get to the big stuff--or at least get a big reaction out of the big stuff--if you haven't paid attention to the little stuff that got you there.

For example, before there was your wedding day (if you've gotten married), there was the day of the proposal.  Before that, there was the day you "knew" that you had found the right one.  Still before that came the day you met the man you married.  And even before that came the day you learned what love looked like.  And that day, which may not stand out immediately in your memory at first, is a very important day.

This week's assignment is to write about the day that brings about something else.  Pick one of the major life experiences you've already written about and work backward to uncover the moment that you made the mental connection between an amorphous idea and what it would look like in real life that caused you to take the path leading to your life experience.  As you explore that day, think especially about the following:
  • What were you doing before you had your mental "awakening"?
  • What did you see, smell, feel as you witnessed what changed your mind?
  • What had you thought before (if anything)?
  • How did this specific event influence your later experience?
 You might ask why such an exercise is important, which is a good question.  Quite simply, the different reasons that bring us to the major life experiences that we share with so many others are the very thing that sets our experiences apart from others and makes us unique.  Millions of us have gotten married, yet no one else's wedding, no one else's marriage is exactly like our own.  A story of my wedding may not be much more than a litany of traditions followed by countless others in my family and culture.  The story of how I chose whom I chose or why I decided to consider marriage--those stories--will reveal to my family and others much more of my personality than the simple wedding story can do on its own.

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